Leave of Absence from the USA

View most recent Leave of Absence from the U.S. webinar recording here!

International students who will take a leave of absence from UC San Diego for one or more quarters are required to obtain permission from the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) prior to their proposed leave. This permission from ISPO is called a “Leave of Absence from the USA.” 

Failure to report a leave or failure to be physically outside of the USA during your leave will have a negative impact on your immigration status.

What is a Leave of Absence from the USA?

International students in F-1 or J-1 status are required to be enrolled in at least 12 units every quarter at UC San Diego. If you do not plan to be enrolled at all for a quarter or more during your program at UC San Diego, you must apply with ISPO and:

  • Undergraduate students: Withdrawal with your college
  • Graduate students: Leave of Absence with Graduate Division
PLEASE NOTE: International students on approved withdrawal/leaves of absence must be physically OUTSIDE of the USA for the duration of their withdrawal/leave. While on withdrawal/leave status, a student may not be employed by UCSD, UCSD Extension, or UCSD Medical Center or hold a fellowship, traineeship, or similar appointment administered by the University. Students may not use any University facilities or place demands on faculty.

Application Requirements

International students must meet with an advisor during walk-in hours prior to their proposed leave and submit the following to ISPO in order to document their leave of absence and departure from the USA:

  • ISPO Leave of Absence from the USA Form
  • Copy of airline ticket or flight itinerary showing planned departure date. You must depart the USA within 15 days of submitting the LOA Form or before the start of the next quarter (whichever is sooner).

You should also meet with your college or department advisor to discuss the impact of your proposed leave on your program of study.


After you leave the U.S., your SEVIS record will be Terminated for Authorized Early Withdrawal.  Upon termination of your SEVIS record, all F-1 benefits, such as travel and employment cease immediately.  SEVIS records of dependents sponsored under your visa will also be terminated. Dependents in this situation are not allowed to remain in the U.S.


If you have not already left when your SEVIS record is terminated, you must leave within 15 days of the termination date. If you do not leave the U.S. within the stated time, you will be out of status and in the country without authorization.

Returning from Leave of Absence from the USA

Requirements to return from a leave of absence are different depending on if your leave is more than 5 months or less than 5 months (the 5 months are calculated from the date you depart the US to the program start date of the quarter you intend to return for).


If you take a leave of absence for more than 5 months, you must be enrolled for one full academic year upon your return to be eligible for F-1 Curricular Practical Training or F-1 Optional Practical Training.


For more information, see our Returning from Leave of Absence from the USA page.